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Hello, fellow listeners!

I'm back from Mexico and a lovely wedding just in time to get ready for PodCon! I hope you've all had lovely holidays and your 2019 has started out as well as it can. We're going to be covering my vacation podcast playlist in Casting it Back, and PodCon and conventions in general in today's Casting Light.
I've been on a lot of travels lately; in fact, I've only been home for four days since December 21st. In between family vacation and weddings in Mexico, what I elected to do was create a great sunny beach-time playlist for myself. I'm going to share part of it with you, including some of the non-fiction podcasts that brought me joy.

Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet: This was one of my best finds prior to vacation; hosts Christine and Alex Schiefer collect some of the weirdest, worst 1-star reviews to some business type (like hair salon, or pet store) in any city and then attempt to read them dramatically. If you have ever incredulously scrolled through a review wondering "who are these people?", Beach Too Sandy will attempt to answer these questions. And stay around for the challenge, where one host comes up with a ridiculous set of parameters for their co-host to find a review within.

Blúiríní Béaloidis Folklore Podcast: I've been diving deep into this folklore podcast from the National Folklore Collection in Dublin, and the infectious joy and energy from hosts Jonny Dillon and Claire Doohan. They do great work making it clear that folklore is more than just the supernatural legends about the Fae, and also relies heavily on practical traditions and methods. The complete picture that they give about each topic -- the one about May Day in particular was full of surprises for me -- means that I end every episode feeling like I learned something, and giggled along the way.

Roommate from Hell: An atheist and a demon end up rooming together, and that goes about as well as you can expect. A majority of these episodes are quick, ten-minutes-or-less irreverent moments of demonic comedy in the modern era. These two unlikely friends dealing with Uber Pool ride sharing or reading golem instructions from a taxi are really just the tip of the iceberg.

ARCS: The first podcast from new network Atypical Artists, ARCS is a D&D podcast about three unlikely heroes going on a quest for a famed relic. It's full of evocative sound design with a great narrator and Dungeon Master in Jordan Adika. It's so much fun and laughter right out of the gate, and I spent a great couple of hours rollicking through three characters meeting each other and making absolutely terrible first impressions upon one another.

LeVar Burton Reads: Audiobooks are a great choice for relaxing back in the sun (or in the warmth of your own home) and LeVar Burton Reads continues to be my number one choice for narrated short fiction. Between Burton's lush and poignant storytelling tone, that opening deep breath to relax into the story, and the expertly immersive sound design, this podcast is my go-to for drifting away into another world.

The Adventures of Marty and Hester: I first squinted in confusion when the description for this podcast said it was a "prequel to Frasier". And then realized it followed Frasier's parents, Marty Crane and Hester Palmer while they detect their way through some classic 50s radio drama style murders dusted over with the comedic stylings appropriate to both that era, and our own ears.

Oz 9: The useless crew of a quietly launched spaceship about to be declared unfit for journey, full of stasis pods full of rich people, attempt to survive space, keep those frozen people alive, and also make their corporation richer to find planets ready for terraforming. Well-intentioned but hapless skeleton space crews is an immediate draw for me, especially when filled out by a nervous AI.

Deck the Halls (with Matrimony!): I missed out on listening to this third season during the proper Christmas holidays, but I got time to marathon it in the past couple of weeks and I'm so glad I did. Once again, Emma, Jackie, and Stu end up skipping and slipping through a bunch of misadventures and wild shenanigans with the same fierceness that endeared listeners in previous seasons, while changing up the structure in just the right way to give them something new.

Magic King Dom: I have been waiting so fiercely for Dom's return and it's just as heart-wrenching as I thought it would be.The writing of A.R. Olivieri is often a model for how to write tight, short scripts, that have heart, history, and breadth of universe in less then ten minutes. Magic King Dom is no exception, and Lisette Alvarez does great work as Dom, giving this main character the needed out-of-step, somewhat sheltered perspective.

Fracture: I love being surprised by universe building; I wasn't sure what to expect, but I got shadowy fantasy crime Gwen Ortiz's logs investigating the simultaneous glass shattering across a five-mile radius in her city are creepy and invigorating, with the right touch of noir. She isn't an officer of the law, but she's going to do everything in her power (and probably outside it, too) in order to find the non-human entity wreaking havoc across the city.

Readers, I am so excited for PodCon 2 this weekend, especially since there are so many extra events bracketed around them and so many wonderful friends I’ve made in podcasting to meet in person (and stickers to collect!).

For those who haven’t been or heard of it, PodCon is a podcast convention in Seattle, Washington, taking place this year on January 19th and 20th at the Washington State Convention Center. The road to PodCon 2 has been interesting. There’s no doubt that every convention experiences growing pains after a successful first year (I thought PodCon 1 was highly successful; read Wil Williams’ post about it here), and I’ve seen PodCon’s in areas I hadn’t been expecting.

I expected problems in things like adjusting accessibility within the convention center or in paying guests and speakers, but what’s been front and center are issues with the schedule. The schedule dropped fairly late all things considered, and ended up needing clarification that it was an incomplete schedule, as all that was present was a rotation of featured guests across various panels and live shows, and very little variety or diversity, especially in POC or transgender speakers. They’ve since updated it, and are even adding workshops as late as yesterday, which has made planning and prioritizing what I’m going to be able to see difficult.

As a result, it’s also a heavily packed schedule, with a large focus on live shows and comedic panels, rather than events with tangible advice for creating podcasts as an independent business. There’s a clear reliance on the remote attendance option -- PodCon records a majority of their panels as well as live shows and other events -- so that people who want to go to multiple events in one timeslot can listen to it later.

Watching these scheduling issues so soon after the problems with Worldcon, in particular, has given me a lot of opportunity to think about what makes for successful convention planning, and about diversity in conventions of all kinds. Granted, it also gave me flashbacks to my days as a convention planner; things I would not go back to for $5000, Alex. Convention planning isn’t easy, and trying to tetris all the things your attendees could want into two days is a logistical nightmare of its own. Even so, when creating things like featured guest lists, community panel acceptances, and speaker line-ups, we should always be thinking about marginalized voices, and making sure they’re speaking about not just their experience as a marginalized person, but about their work and career.

However, I have to be clear: I’m really looking forward to PodCon. There is plenty of excitement for what’s in the schedule, and for my own adventures as a speaker. A large number of independent fiction podcasters are going to be attending, for instance, and have their own tables and booths to help spread the good word of fiction podcasting. There are some excellent panels and workshops lined up, such as Transgender Representation in Audio Drama and Complicated Ideas, Simple Podcasts. I roped my friend into coming with me, and got to tell her all about the live shows that are happening, like Oh No Ross & Carrie, Sawbones, and Spirits, and I loved watched her face light up in delight.

If you’re wondering where to find me at PodCon, there’s a short list of events I’ll be at at the bottom of this issue. Are you going to PodCon? Maybe we can say hi!

My Best in Podcasting lists for 2018 were a treat to write up.
IMAGINARY ADVICE challenges listeners to create art
If you want to see more reviews, interviews, and other articles from me, you can support me over at my ko-fi account! 
Ko-Fi Support

SYFY is sponsoring a free to enter writing competition for a serialized fiction podcast. The first round requests a five-minute podcast teaser based on the Round 1 prompt of Alice in Wonderland, as a thriller, set in space. Finalists for the second round write a 20-30 minute pilot script and a 6-episode outline; the finale winner will write and workshop the episodes with SYFY for $5000. You can find more details here. (Please note, this contest is only open to residents of the 50 US states and DC.)
You'll be able to find me at certain events at PodCon!

Thanks, as ever, for sticking with me through a whirlwind of holidays and hospital visits. I had a relapse over the holidays, and needed all this extra time to start getting caught up. We should be back to both a regular schedule and a regular newsletter starting January 28th.

If you'd like to ask me questions or comments, you can reply to this newsletter (it goes directly to my email!) or reach out to me on Twitter.

Happy listening,
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Copyright © 2019 Audio Dramatic, All rights reserved.

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